Croatian tabloid takes aim at Herdman after post-game comment
Croatian tabloid 24sata took aim at Canada's John Herdman on Friday after the manager told his team they were going to "eff Croatia" in their next match following Wednesday's loss to Belgium.
Herdman clarified on Thursday that the comment was meant to set the mindset for Canada and not disrespect the 2018 finalists, but it clearly did not sit well with the Croatian outlet.
Covered only by a maple leaf over his mouth and another over his midsection, an otherwise naked Herdman was featured on the cover of 24sata with the caption: "You have the mouth (tongue), But do you have the balls as well?" As translated by Juraj Vrdoljak on Twitter.
Herdman was asked by members of the Croatian media on Thursday whether he made an 'underestimating statement' about the European side.
“I mean, you say those things in an impassioned moment trying to inspire your team in a huddle. And when you’re asked a question ‘What did you say that huddle?’ It’s what I said,” Herdman replied.
“It’s not massively respectful to Croatian people and the Croatian national team. I understand very well where we’re at on the world stage, but in that moment you enter that next place you take your team to that next place that we’re here to be fearless and to bring everything we’ve got to that game."
“I mean no disrespect to the Croatian team and Croatian people, but at the end of the day it’s a mindset that Canada is going to have if we’re going to have 3 points against one of the top teams in the world," Herdman added. "And it’s the mindset we took to Belgium. We have to; it’s part of ‘New Canada.’”
Despite Wednesday’s loss, Canada tallied 22 shots compared to Belgium’s nine and by many accounts looked like the more dangerous side for much of the match. Michy Batshuayi scored in the 44th minute to lead the Red Devils to a narrow victory.
Belgium entered the tournament as the No. 2-ranked men’s team in the world. Head coach Roberto Martinez said he was “delighted” his team was able to scratch out a win while not playing up to their potential.
Croatia also enter Sunday's game looking for their first win, having played Morocco to a scoreless draw in their Group F opener on Wednesday.